700+ on the GMAT is an esteemed score that every MBA pursuant would want to target and achieve! Well… what’s all about 700+ that’s not there in” just about 700”? How does it even matter? Here’s what is at stake. PERCENTILE!! At 700, you are at 88th percentile, but at just 10 more, the 91st percentile of 710 will be achieved!! However, that 10 more feels “so near yet so far”!
So how does one prepare for this score and how long does it take? How much time do I have in a day and how many hours out of that can I productively contribute to GMAT preparation?
First and foremost, let us get an idea of what the GMAT Exam syllabus is and what we are majorly tested on.
The GMAT Verbal Syllabus comprises questions on Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction. We are tested on this entire content through 36 questions in a time-frame of only 65 minutes. But what is it that we need to excel in? Our reading and comprehending skills, our analytical and logical reasoning ability, and of course our knowledge of English grammar to be able to correct the wrong, if any, in sentences.
As far as the GMAT Quant syllabus goes, only two formats of questions happen – Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency. You get 31 questions to answer in 62 minutes. Although the Quant section tests no more beyond high-school Math, a sharp analytical and mathematical ability coupled with a solid grasp of fundamental concepts of basic Math and graphical interpretation make it challenging.
The next most important step is to take a diagnostic test for a self-assessment of your current capabilities. Once you know where you stand on the Verbal and Math, you need a plan towards the 700+! One needs to remember that it takes two hands to clap, hence preparing for only Verbal because you seem to be a wizard in Quant is a wrong notion. Consistent performance is the key. If you need the 90th percentile, then the combo of Quant and Verbal scores will make it happen. Currently, the percentile ranking is such that if your Quant and Verbal raw scores add up to an 87, you could be at a 710! So a 50 in Quant & 37 Verbal; 51 in Quant & 36 in Verbal; 49 in Quant & 38 in Verbal can take you to a dream 700+, but if this total comes to even an 86, you are at 700 …:( Hence, keep working consistently on your strengths and focus on and understand your weaknesses.
The road to a 700+ score starts with a mastery of fundamental skills. For instance, you should know how to simplify exponents and know the common Pythagorean triplets, basic formulae, basics of probability & ratios for Quant. On the Verbal, for Sentence Correction- you must know the basic grammar rules that the GMAT tests, for Critical Reasoning- what is an argument, how to break an argument into its components, how to spot flaws in arguments, for Reading Comprehension- how to practice quick reading, understanding author points, inferences. Since the GMAT test is majorly about time management and not about only content, certain techniques, strategies, and skills learnt will certainly benefit immensely.
At this juncture, some may opt for just buying the GMAT Test series and practice on their own to improve on their scores. However, GMAT prep is at its best when you go through a proper GMAT coaching session. Again, this depends on how much time you have before taking your actual GMAT test. Investing a fixed number of hours for the GMAT study is going to organize your GMAT prep. You will be in touch with the content and techniques even though your working hours take a lot of your time. Tasks and assignments given have to be submitted on time. This ensures that there is no deviation from your ultimate goal. Commitment and diligence need to work together.
Everything boils down to practice, practice, and practice. The resources are many for GMAT prep, in fact in abundance. You should know how to practice. It’s always learned, implement via a test, assess your score, do the error analysis, work on the mistakes, learn, set the next target.
Any practice you do has to be a timed one. Firstly, record how much time you take to do a set of questions. Once you’ve corrected them and learnt from the wrongs, reduce the overall time for the next set of questions. This time, check whether you repeated the previous errors. Get to understand faster ways to do the same type of questions. Be sure to eliminate answers with reasons. Do not let intuition supersede reasoning and approaches.
Taking mock tests once a week is significantly going to hone your strategic and pacing skills. With every full length test taking, you get to see a difference. These differences could be in a variety of areas- section order differences, the number of corrects per 10 question slot in a section, differences in difficulty levels crossed, differences in time per question etc. Each of these differences has to be analyzed and a pacing strategy and goal setting worked out.
The time of test taking is also an important contributing factor towards you giving your best. You need the stamina for a three and a half hour test. Your endurance and composure is at stake with a volley of questions directed at you ranging from easy to medium to hard levels of difficulty. Some are even going to be unscored. Yet others work as average difficulty tested. Reading comprehension passages aren’t going to be those lovable and gripping reads, but absolutely dry and long!! Again, it is only frequent test taking that will help you understand all these criteria and prepare yourself to be resilient and calm on the actual test day.
After all the above points are taken into consideration is when you focus on the last lap of progress. By now, you should have come to a consistent 49 and 36 at least, on the Quant and Verbal respectively. The leap now has to be to come to terms with what you excel in – Math or Verbal. Do the fine-tuning. Target on how many questions you can actually guess on sometimes to make time for some other questions. Learn the tricks of the trait. Do not indulge in spending way too much time on a question that you actually don’t know beyond a particular point. Save that energy, thought process, and time on the next questions that will help you complete the test comfortably.
Let not your stubborn attitude cost the loss of your dream score – 700+. Though answering initial questions correctly is critical, that doesn’t mean that you stuck with only initial questions throughout. This attitude can hurt your ability to finish your test. A few guesses here and there is going to rejuvenate your reading and comprehending skills and lead you to higher difficulty level questions gradually.
Your ultimate score is basically drawn from
-the number of questions you answered (which you can’t afford to compromise on)
-the number of questions answered correctly
-the difficulty level in all of the questions answered correctly.
Have you come to the required slab of difficulty level? Is that now consistent? Has your pacing become comfortable?
Now end your GMAT prep with two official tests and let your determination and competence in those tests speak of your performance.
It will! You should be at that 50, 38, or maybe even 51, 39… who knows!
Patience and perseverance are all you need to conquer this mountain of 700+!!
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